(Written Friday, May 28, 19:38 Rose-Hulman time)
You ever lay in bed at the end of a day and as you look back, wonder if everything that happened actually happened to you?
I told Nikolai last night [the night before we left] that I suspected something bad would happen on this trip with Johnny.
Nikolai and I departed the Haute around 10:00 this morning, cars loaded, everything set. Things went well until I almost got sideswipped off the road by a semi just past Indianapolis.
I stopped to take a piss break and calm my nerves just after that.
Kept driving, waved at exit 16 on I-65 (where, if memory serves, Luke lives), and headed on into Louisville. Made it as far as the bridge over the Ohio (??) River before I had to leave a layer of rubber on the ground when the car in front of me, who had absolutely no brake lights, slammed to a stop. He swerved, and I missed eating the back end of his car for lunch.
We stopped shorty after that for another piss break and some dry heaves from nerves.
Fueling up here revealed that my car was leaking oil visibly. So I filled him up with the oil that I had, and we set off again, planning to make frequent stops to refill. Called the folks and let them know what was up.
The next stop, probably 20 miles down the road, revealed the leakage was accelerating. There happened to be a Firestone right behind the gas station, so the guy crawled under (free of charge!) and found out that my “rear main” (an oil seal) was gone. Repairs would be expensive. The transmission would have to be moved back, then the oil pan (and surrounding bits) taken apart, the seal put in, then all of it put back. His recommendation was to just stop every hour or so and fill up on oil so I could make it back to Charlotte.
Around this time, I started noticing the transmission problems. When I pressed on the gas, the engine would rev up, then after a few seconds, jerk forward and begin to move. At first, it was only at low speeds, so I figured that once I got up to speed on the highway, I could cruise until I needed to stop again.
We stopped in Frankfurt (10 miles from where the Firestone guy looked at my car), and bought a 5 quart thing of oil.
Enter Berea, Kentucky. It’s been about an hour since Frankfurt, but I wanted to go just a little bit further, despite the growing transmission problems. I’m barely able to keep speed on the highway, and I’m having to stay in the right lane in case I suddenly lose the damn thing and need to get off the road.
We stopped in Mt. Vernon, Kentucky. I’d been panting in panic since I almost ate that car in Louisville, my stomach was in knots, my head was throbbing, and I was shaking constantly from the fear my car was going to die on a highway full of traffic and with a speed limit of 65 miles per hour. We pulled into the local gas station. My car was smoking from burning off the leaking oil (which had splattered Nikolai’s windshield), and the transmission was just about gone.
I called the parents, told them I wasn’t sure Johnny was going to make it to Knoxville. They made sure I could get a hotel room, and got ready to come get me.
My car could not make it out of the gas station to get to the hotel. I put it in reverse to pull out of the spot, and if it moved, it moved forward. Finally got it to back up, and couldn’t get it to go across the ridiculously busy intersection. All it had to do was cross the street. Literally.
We pushed it back into the parking lot, and a law enforcement guy (from Wildlife, I believe) called a wrecker for us. Nikolai and I unloaded his stuff into the hotel room, then moved my stuff into his car and over to the hotel room.
I told the wrecker driver to junk Johnny.
The oil seal problem was going to be the last problem I was going to put up with on Johnny. We paid $1000 for him, invested another $1000 in air conditioner, etc. His book value is $1700, even though he’s 21 years old. I’d already put about $500 myself into him. Enough is enough.
Transmission problems are no joke, and that, combined with the oil seal, sealed his fate. I may have to be carless for a minute (thank fucking goodness for this research this summer, so I can start saving…), but I refuse to pour money into that car anymore.
So I am carless, sitting in Mt. Vernon, KY in a Days Inn hotel room I paid a ridiculous $82 bucks for.